Attitudes and treatment practice of general practitioners towards patients with obesity in primary care

BMC Fam Pract. 2020 Aug 17;21(1):169. doi: 10.1186/s12875-020-01239-1.


Background: Obesity is one of the most common and relevant health problems in need of urgent action in Germany. General practitioners (GPs) are the initial contact and thus one of the most important starting points for the successful treatment of overweight and obesity. The aim of the study was to assess the treatment practice and attitudes towards patients with obesity in primary health care in Germany.

Methods: Analyses were based on baseline data of the INTERACT trial of 47 GPs in central Germany. Stigmatizing attitudes were identified using the Fat Phobia Scale (FPS). In addition, questionnaires including sociodemographic information, attribution of causes of obesity, referral behavior and clinical activities were completed. Statistical investigations include descriptive analysis, principal component analysis, inference statistics and linear regression models.

Results: GPs rated the quality of medical care for patients with obesity in Germany as below average. The FPS score revealed a value of 3.70, showing that GPs' attitudes towards patients with obesity are stigmatizing. Younger GP age, male gender and a lower number of referrals to specialists were associated with higher levels of stigmatizing attitudes.

Conclusion: Weight-related stigmatization has an impact on medical treatment. Obesity management guides would help to increase knowledge and reduce weight-related stigmatization in primary care, thereby improving medical care for obese and overweight patients.

Keywords: Family practice; Obesity; Overweight; Primary care; Stigmatization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • General Practitioners*
  • Germany
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Primary Health Care
  • Stereotyping
  • Surveys and Questionnaires